Play group targets post-natal depression
WHEN Andrea Farrelly gave birth to her second child, Tom, in March last year, she was convinced she had turned into a witch mother’’. She found herself lashing out at her toddler, Amy, and thought her family was better off without her.
It was only when Tom was six months old that her husband suggested she might have post-natal depression.
Tom was born with a heart defect, which required surgery. ‘‘ I think that triggered everything off,’’ says Farrelly, who asked that her and her family’s names be changed.
But she didn’t consider she might be suffering from post-natal depression, because she wasn’t feeling ‘‘ depressed’’.
‘‘ I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t miserable — I was just really, really angry,’’ she recalls.
After a visit to her GP, Farrelly started taking anti-depressants and began counselling, but she said the thing that helped her most was a supported play group she attended with other PND sufferers.
‘‘ I went and saw that there were other people just like me,’’ she said. ‘‘ It made me think, ‘ I’m OK, I’m not the only person in the world who’s struggling with this’.’’
The group, Baby and Beyond, was established by Sydney-based psychotherapist Melissa Hughes, who runs the group along with a male counsellor, Paul Grima, and a qualified childcare worker, Shannon Bowyer, who organises structured play activities for the children.
Hughes says she believes there is a lack of ongoing support services available for PND sufferers, and more funding is needed for services of this kind.
‘‘ What happened is this big push — a lot of the money they talked about for postnatal depression is actually going into education and awareness, which is great, but there’s nowhere for these women to go,’’ she said.
Post and Antenatal Depression Association CEO Belinda Horton says specialised services for PND sufferers are sporadic — many have long waiting lists and there are gaps in coverage in certain areas.
But she says that with the launch of the beyondblue national action plan to tackle PND last year, there are moves afoot to improve those services. ‘‘ It would be great to see that actually happen,’’ she said.
Beyondblue deputy CEO Nicole Highet says the national action plan is focused on prevention, early intervention and treatment — but not on support groups.
Highet rejects the idea that women